Gulzira Auelkhan

US, EU must prepare for ‘long-term strategic competition with China’, says President Joe Biden

US, EU must prepare for 'long-term strategic competition with China', says President Joe Biden

Jacob Fromer and Mark Magnier

·7 min read
 
 

The European Union and United States must prepare for “long-term strategic competition with China“, US President Joe Biden said in a foreign policy address on Friday, one of the clearest signs yet of how the new US administration views and intends to engage with Beijing.

“How the United States, Europe and Asia work together to secure the peace and defend our shared values and advance our prosperity across the Pacific will be among the most consequential efforts we undertake,” Biden said on Friday, in one of his first foreign policy speeches as president, delivered virtually to the annual Munich Security Conference in Germany.

“Competition with China is going to be stiff,” he said, adding that the US and its allies in Europe have an obligation to stand up for democracy in the face of rising authoritarianism around the world.

 

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Biden’s speech comes just under one month into his presidency, at a moment when US-China relations remain ice-cold in the aftermath of the Trump administration – a period in which the world’s two largest economies clashed with increasing intensity over trade, human rights and most recently the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

In the early weeks of the new administration, observers in China and elsewhere have been closely watching for any signals about how Washington may intend to engage with Beijing under Biden, who served as US vice-president for eight years between 2009 and 2017, when the relationship was warmer.

Chinese officials have spent recent weeks pushing the idea that the Trump administration alone had caused the relationship to unravel, and have been nudging Biden with the suggestion that he can unilaterally fix it.

Because Biden had served as vice-president during a friendlier period of US-China relations, and has brought in numerous officials from that time to serve in his cabinet, many voices in China also suggested that Biden would immediately reach out a hand to Beijing after taking office – even as they are also warning Washington to keep its mouth shut about various issues, including TaiwanXinjiang and Hong Kong, that Beijing considers sensitive.

Biden’s speech on Friday was the latest example of just how far the political mood towards China has shifted in the US, especially over the last year.

On other pressing foreign policy issues, Biden has already shown that his administration will move in a radically different direction from his predecessor.

The administration said on Thursday that it had opened the door to restarting diplomatic talks with Iran over the country’s nuclear programme. Biden criticised Russian leader Vladimir Putin by name in his speech on Friday.

And hours before the address, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the US had officially rejoined the Paris climate agreement.

Biden made clear on Friday that China policy will be different.

“We have to push back against the Chinese government’s economic abuses and coercion that undercut the foundations of the international economic system,” he said.

Chinese companies should be held to the same transparency standards as US and European companies, he added.

He spoke about “pushing back against those who would monopolise and normalise repression”.

Shortly after the speech, a State Department spokesman criticized a recent Chinese law allowing its coastguard ships to fire on foreign vessels, and said the US stands with allies against China’s actions in the South China Sea.

Biden’s speech, delivered soon after his first meeting with the Group of Seven (G7) leaders, reflects the growing view in the US and elsewhere that many of Beijing’s policies under Xi Jinping have become dangerous, analysts have said.

“China has been increasingly assertive on the world stage and in some cases quite aggressive, which has sparked fear in many foreign capitals that they are going to shed some of the constraints and cautious approach that marked their global engagement before,” said Brett Bruen, a former White House head of global engagement and now with a crisis management consultancy.

Beijing’s territorial chest thumping in the South China Sea and its crackdowns in Hong Kong and Xinjiang have unsettled many European and Asian nations, providing fertile ground for a more united front.

Chinese government policies have sparked intense protest around the world, from Europe to India to Myanmar.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at State Department in Washington on February 4. Photo: AP alt=US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at State Department in Washington on February 4. Photo: AP

Allies are now seeing the “full power of their influence,” Bruen added. “When you compare the capacity of Moscow and Beijing to meddle, Beijing is in the Premier League and Moscow in barely in the junior soccer academy.”

Biden also faces bipartisan pressure from Congress to hold a hard line against Xi – one of the few major policy issues in polarised Washington where there is general agreement between the two parties.

Before Biden’s speech, Representative Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, urged the president to take “bold and meaningful action” to hold China’s Communist Party accountable.

“Reprimands and stern talk are no longer enough”, McCaul said in a statement.

At the same time, US allies remain wary of Washington after four years of “America First” policies that often saw them arm twisted into renegotiating trade deals and increasing their military burden sharing.

It remains to be seen if Biden’s appeal on Friday to human rights, democracy and the long-standing US-EU bond – along with his early outreach to allies well before his largely ceremonial February 10 call with Xi – can convince Europe to stay firmly in Washington’s camp in the looming competition with Beijing.

Beijing has not missed a beat in reacting early to Washington’s new playbook, with efforts to undermine any united front with diplomatic sticks and economic carrots. China has lashed out at Australia, enacting punitive trade sanctions, after it joined a European call for a comprehensive investigation into the origin of Covid-19.

Soon after Biden’s election, China also expressed interest in joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. And last month, it reached a Comprehensive Agreement on Investments with the European Union, all part of what some characterise as a divide and conquer strategy.

Hua Chunying, China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, said on Friday that China opposes “the practice of ideologizing multilateralism to form values-based allies targeting specific countries” – a response to the G7 meeting on Friday morning.

“Creating a broad united front on China will not happen easily. Beijing will lash out at countries closely coordinating with Washington, as it did against Australia last year,” said Cliff Kupchan, chairman and research director at the Eurasia Group, during a rundown of 2021 challenges last month. “Also Xi Jinping has shown he’s a formidable competitor when he pulled a big coup on the EU investment issue.”

In his speech, while Biden spoke about the need to stand up to China and authoritarianism at large, he also warned against retreating into the blocs of a new cold war, especially in the midst of a pandemic.

“Competition must not lock out cooperation on issues that affect us all,” he said.

But he was clear about which system he believed was ultimately best suited to keep the world peaceful and safe.

“America is back,” he said. “So let’s get together and demonstrate to our great-great-grandchildren, when they read about us, that democracy – democracy – democracy functions and works.”

Additional reporting by Owen Churchill

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2021 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Copyright (c) 2021. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

US ready to ‘re-engage’, Biden tells Europe as attempts to undo damage of Trump era begin

US ready to ‘re-engage’, Biden tells Europe as attempts to undo damage of Trump era begin

Kim Sengupta

·4-min read
 
 
 (EPA)
 
(EPA)

Western leaders met together for the first time since Joe Biden became the US president, with calls to repair the damage done in the turbulent and divisive years of Donald Trump, and take a united stand against pressing international challenges.

Following a virtual summit of G7 states in London, with a focus on the coronavirus pandemic with financial contributions pledged on a global vaccine rollout, they gave virtual addresses to the annual Munich Security conference on problems lying ahead.

Mr Biden’s direct message was that democratic states must work together against the threat from autocratic China and Russia, with the reassurance that “America is back” after four years of Mr Trump’s “America First” which translated into repeated attacks Nato and the EU, as well as criticism of allies in east Asia like South Korea and Japan.

“I know the past few years have strained and tested our transatlantic relationship. The United States is determined to re-engage with Europe, to consult with you, to earn back our position of trust and leadership”, said the president.

“We are in the midst of a fundamental debate about the future direction of our world, between those who argue that – given all of the challenges we face, from the fourth industrial revolution to a global pandemic – autocracy is the best way forward and those who understand that democracy is essential to meeting those challenges.”

China’s manipulation of the international economic system to gain advantage must be resisted, said Mr Biden. “Everyone must play by the same rules. We must prepare together for long-term strategic competition with China, how the United States, Europe and Asia work together to secure the peace and defend our shared values, advance our prosperity across the Pacific,” he held.

While castigating Western allies, Mr Trump had been loathed to criticise Russia and never, ever Vladimir Putin. Mr Biden accused the Russian president of wanting to “undermine the transatlantic unity and our resolve, because it’s so much easier for the Kremlin to bully and threaten individual states than it is to negotiate with a strong and united transatlantic community.

“The Kremlin attacks our democracies and weaponises corruption to try to undermine our system of governance. Russian leaders want people to think that our system is more corrupt, or as corrupt, as theirs.”

There have been claims that the G7 meeting has been prelude to an expansion to a G10 or D10 group of democratic states with Australia, India and South Korea being invited to participate by the British government. All three countries have clashed with Beijing and are seen as Washington as partners against Chinese expansion.

Boris Johnson, who incurred the anger of Democrats in the US with his cultivation of Mr Trump, was keen to praise President Biden, who had once called him a “Trump clone”, and stress that Britain was standing up to China. “We have consistently spoken out on China’s repression of the Uighur people in Xinjiang and we will continue to do so”, he said.

Mr Johnson, the Brexit champion, was also keen to highlight his European credentials. “Our commitment to European security is unconditional and immoveable,” he stated.

Angela Merkel declared that “prospects for multilateralism are a lot better than it used to be in the past and that has a lot to do with Joe Biden being the new president of the United States of America”.

The German Chancellor continued: “his administration has taken steps, and we have seen that this is not just empty words, but they’re taking action, they return to the Paris Climate Agreement, the World Health Organisation the unified councils the extension of the New START agreement, then the readiness to notice and reinvigorate the Iran nuclear deal, these are important steps towards more multilateral cooperation and I can only support him.”

Emmanuel Macron also praised Mr Biden’s leadership. But he wanted to point out that the immediate priorities of Europe and the US may not coincide at all times.

Pointing to Mr Biden’s speech on challenge from China in the east, the French president said: “The US is to become a Pacific power, meaning it is looking at china and the Pacific Ocean. It means that it will refocus us to other regions, than our neighbourhood. During decades, the US within Nato was totally focused on Europe defence of Europe, and our neighbourhood. And I think it is time for us to take much more of the burden of our own protection.”

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Biden rallies G7 allies on Russia, China and climate crisis following ‘strained’ Trump era

China Betrays Its Deal with the Vatican

China Betrays Its Deal with the Vatican

Nina Shea

Beijing has quietly indicated that it will soon abrogate its “breakthrough” 2018 agreement with the Vatican, which was meant to settle a decades-long dispute over the appointment of bishops in China.

In November, shortly after exchanging diplomatic notes verbales with Rome to renew the deal for another two years, China thoroughly negated it in a dry public posting by the state bureaucracy. Order No. 15, on new administrative rules for religious affairs, includes an article on establishing a process for the selection of Catholic bishops in China after May 1. The document makes no provision for any papal role in the process, not even a papal right to approve or veto episcopal appointments in China, which was supposed to be the single substantive concession to the Vatican in the agreement. It’s as if the deal never happened.

Reneging on a deal with Pope Francis may not be as consequential as overturning the “one country, two systems” agreement that was supposed to guarantee Hong Kong’s autonomy after the city’s return from the United Kingdom to China, but it does reveal the peril of international partnerships with Beijing.

In October, when the two-year renewal of the deal was announced, the Vatican reported that the “results achieved” until then under the agreement were the appointments of two new bishops who had papal approval. Its press statement praised the appointments as “a good start.” “Thanks to the implementation of the Agreement, there will be no illegitimate ordinations,” the statement said, before expressing joy that the Chinese Church would experience “unity” once again. Order No. 15 now casts serious doubt on these claims.

So far, the Vatican has not commented on China’s a stunning betrayal. On February 11, the magazine Bitter Winter translated the document into English, enabling the Catholic News Agency to summarize the process they establish: “China’s state-run Catholic Church and bishops’ conference will select, approve, and ordain episcopal candidates — with no mention of the Vatican’s involvement in the process.”

Significantly, the new rules require the clergy to “adhere to the principle of independent and self-administered religion in China.” This language tracks with a longstanding clause in the membership pledge of the so-called Chinese Patriotic Catholic Church (CPCC), which bishops and priests are required to sign to be licensed for ministry. It means, in practical terms, that Chinese clergy must be actually independent of the Vatican and, therefore, must be apostates. In 2019, the Vatican suggested guidelines, outside the agreement’s framework, for rejecting the clause. Father Huang Jintong, a priest in Fujian, was held by police and tortured for four days for following the Vatican guidance.

The new rules stipulates that CPCC-aligned clergy actively support the ruling Communist Party. Article 3 requires them to “support the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party” and “the socialist system,” as well as to “practice the core values of socialism.” The rules also require clergy to promote “social harmony,” by which Beijing means conformity of thought. In other words, the rules aim to turn churches into another arm of the authoritarian Chinese regime.

Enforcement is ensured by a rule directing that those entering churches “be regulated through strict gatekeeping, verification of identity, and registration.” Registration is to be tracked in a new government database that lists the names of legal clergy and regulates their behavior through a system of “rewards” and “punishments.”

Catholicism has deep historical roots in China. Introduced to the country by the 16th-century Jesuit priest Matteo Ricci, it is one of five state-recognized religions, and China’s estimated 12 million Catholics are not subject to charges of separatism or terrorism, as several other Chinese religious minorities are. Instead, the CCP views Catholicism warily, as a belief system imported from the West, and aims either to coopt the religion through the party-controlled Patriotic Church or to eradicate it completely.

The appointment of bishops, the Vatican explained in its statement on the 2018 agreement’s renewal, is “essential to guarantee the ordinary life of the Church in China.” While both parties agreed to keep the text confidential, the Vatican has been clear about the importance of a papal role in this process.

As the Catholic News Service reported, “Pope Francis told reporters in September 2018 that the agreement envisions ‘a dialogue about potential candidates. The matter is carried out through dialogue. But the appointment is made by Rome; the appointment is by the pope. This is clear.’” The Vatican disclosed that fundamental Church teaching on “the particular role of the Supreme Pontiff within the Episcopal College and in the appointment of bishops itself, inspired the negotiations” and “was a point of reference in the drafting of the text of the agreement.” It helps to ensure that all Catholic congregations in China will be unified behind the pope.

With Pope Francis’s approval, Vatican diplomats pursued a bilateral agreement, taking advantage of the Holy See’s status as a sovereign state. The Vatican accepted that the agreement would “exclusively concern” episcopal appointments. It would refrain from pressing Beijing on the status of the “underground,” non-CPCC Catholic Church, the ban against religion for youth, the state’s destruction of numerous churches and Marian shrines, its efforts to reinterpret the Bible, and a host of other human-rights crises. It could live with Communist administrative control of its churches, as it did in Eastern Bloc countries during the Cold War. And, as a precondition of the agreement, Pope Francis was willing to lift the prior excommunications of seven government-named bishops. The agreement was signed in September 2018, on a provisional basis for two years. As recently as October 2020, the Vatican expressed satisfaction about its progress and optimistically characterized it as “above all the point of departure for broader and more far-sighted agreements.”

China was willing to enter into the agreement for one simple reason: It wanted Vatican help in eliminating the underground Catholic Church and had the leverage to secure that concession. The CCP-controlled Patriotic Church was to be the institution wherein Chinese Catholic unification would take place, with the pope’s blessing. After the agreement, Chinese authorities rounded up underground Catholic clergy, warning that they would defy the pope if they continued baptizing, ordaining new clergy, and praying in unregistered churches. The Chinese Catholic underground could withstand being officially labeled illegal or counterrevolutionary; it survived fierce persecution as an enemy of the state during Mao’s Cultural Revolution. But it couldn’t withstand running afoul of the pope. The conscientious objectors among the underground clergy felt compelled to end their active ministries and return to their families, as Bishop Vincent Guo of Mindong did this past year.

Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong warned that the 2018 deal would “kill” the Catholic underground in mainland China, and his warning now seems to have been borne out. The underground has been sufficiently weakened that Beijing, calculating that the agreement has served its purpose, is moving to repudiate its sole point of substance. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church, stripped of a papal role in episcopal appointments in China and with a diminished and demoralized underground, is left much more poorly positioned to survive the Xi era intact.

Partnering with Xi’s China is a rigged game, because the CCP doesn’t play by fair rules. It honors bilateral agreements to the extent that they serve its ends; it has no qualms about breaking its end of an agreement after the other party has fulfilled theirs. There is, sadly, little appetite among other nations for holding Xi’s regime to account for such lawlessness. But as a Catholic and a world leader, President Biden should take a close interest in what is happening to the Church in China, and he should use his power to penalize the CCP for its perfidy and to keep it in focus before committing the U.S. in any future partnerships with Beijing.

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U.S. concerned China’s new coast guard law could escalate maritime disputes

U.S. concerned China's new coast guard law could escalate maritime disputes

 
FILE PHOTO: Chinese coastguard ships give chase to Vietnamese coastguard vessels after they came within 10 nautical miles Haiyang Shiyou 981 oil rig in the South China Sea
 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is concerned by China’s recently enacted coast guard law and that it could escalate maritime disputes and be invoked to assert unlawful claims, the U.S. State Department said on Friday.

China, which has maritime sovereignty disputes with Japan in the East China Sea and with several Southeast Asian countries in the South China Sea, passed a law last month that for the first time explicitly allows its coast guard to fire on foreign vessels.

State Department spokesman Ned Price told a regular briefing Washington was “concerned by language in the law that expressly ties the potential use of force, including armed force, by the China coast guard to the enforcement of China’s claims, and ongoing territorial and maritime disputes in the East and South China Seas.”

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He said language, “strongly implies this law could be used to intimidate (China’s) maritime neighbors.”

“We are further concerned that China may invoke this new law to assert its unlawful maritime claims in the South China Sea, which were thoroughly repudiated by the 2016 arbitral tribunal ruling,” he said, referring to an international ruling that found in favor of the Philippines in a dispute with China.

Price said the United States reaffirmed a statement last July in which then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rejected China’s disputed claims to offshore resources in most of the South China Sea as “completely unlawful.”

He added that the United States “stands firm” in its alliance commitments to both Japan and the Philippines.

The United States has mutual defense treaties with both countries and has sailed regular naval patrols in the region to challenge China’s extensive maritime claims.

The Philippines said last month it had filed a diplomatic protest over China’s new law, describing it as a “threat of war.”

(Reporting by Simon Lewis, Humeyra Pamuk, Daphne Psaledakis and David Brunnstrom; Editing by Chris Reese and Jonathan Oatis)

ByteDance tried to build an algorithm to censor Uighur livestreams on TikTok’s Chinese sister app, a former employee has claimed

ByteDance tried to build an algorithm to censor Uighur livestreams on TikTok's Chinese sister app, a former employee has claimed

 

 
uighur protest china
Ethnic Uighur demonstrators take part in a protest against China, in Istanbul, Turkey October 1, 2020. 
Murad Sezer/Reuters
  • An ex-employee of ByteDance said it tried to build an algorithm for censoring Uighur-language livestreams.
  • They said it would have been for removing content from Douyin, TikTok’s Chinese sister app.
  • China has been accused of genocide against the Uighur Muslims.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

A former employee of TikTok’s parent company ByteDance has claimed it tried to develop an algorithm to censor livestreams in the Uighur language.

In an anonymous interview with Protocol, the former ByteDance staffer, who worked for the company’s Trust and Safety team, described developing tools to help the company’s moderation efforts for Douyin — TikTok’s sister app for the Chinese market.

China has been condemned for its treatment of the Uighur Muslims, an ethnic and religious minority in its western Xinjiang province, where tens of thousands of Uighur people have been held in detention centers.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said last month that he regarded China’s treatment of the Uighur Muslims as  genocide.

In the Protocol interview, the ex-employee described how their work often was helping ByteDance build tools to quickly remove content which might violate China’s censorship laws.

“We received multiple requests from the bases to develop an algorithm that could automatically detect when a Douyin user spoke Uyghur, and then cut off the livestream session,” they said.

“The moderators had asked for this because they didn’t understand the language. Streamers speaking ethnic languages and dialects that Mandarin-speakers don’t understand would receive a warning to switch to Mandarin.

“If they didn’t comply, moderators would respond by manually cutting off the livestreams, regardless of the actual content.

 

“But when it comes to Uighur, with an algorithm that did this automatically, the moderators wouldn’t have to be responsible for missing content that authorities could deem to have instigated ‘separatism’ or ‘terrorism’.”

The ex-employee said the tool was never built, partly because the company lacked the data and partly because popular livestream channels were already “closely monitored.”

They added: “I do not recall any major political blowback from the Chinese government during my time at ByteDance, meaning we did our jobs.”

A ByteDance spokesperson told Insider: “Given the huge diversity of dialects and languages spoken in China, Douyin continues to increase its moderation capacities to keep our community safe, particularly in livestreaming.

“As of today there are still a number of languages and dialects that we do not have the personnel resources to effectively moderate, but we are working to resolve this.”

In 2019, TikTok itself was accused of censoring “in line with Chinese Communist Government directives” by US Senator Marco Rubio, near the start of an increasingly heated war of words that ultimately saw President Donald Trump try to ban the app from the US over national security concerns.

In November, a senior TikTok executive told a UK parliamentary hearing that the company did previously censor content “specifically with regard to the Uighur situation” but she added it no longer did this. The same executive later backtracked, saying she “misspoke” and the company had never had a specific policy against the Uighur community.

TikTok has repeatedly sought to distance itself from its Chinese ties. The Biden administration is reportedly re-assessing whether it will uphold an order from former President Trump that would force TikTok to divest its US operations.

We urge the Canadian Government to follow the United States, recognize China’s atrocities against Uyghurs as genocide

We urge the Canadian Government to follow the United States, recognize China's atrocities against Uyghurs as genocide

We urge the Canadian Government to follow the United States, recognize China’s atrocities against Uyghurs as genocide, and take decisive action such as deploying Peacekeeping Force, abolishing trade agreements, and the 2022 Olympics to end ongoing China’s genocide.

https://www.facebook.com/etgovinexileorg/videos/233475555158665

The Government of East Turkestan in Exile officially presents to France a request for recognition of the Uyghur genocide

The Government of East Turkestan in Exile, officially presents to France a request for recognition of the Uighur genocide

China defends use of Twitter, Facebook in virus campaign

China defends use of Twitter, Facebook in virus campaign

·2 min read

BEIJING (AP) — The Chinese government defended its use of Twitter and Facebook on Thursday, following a report that it had used its growing social media presence to spread disinformation about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

When asked about the report, the Foreign Ministry’s top spokesperson, Hua Chunying, didn’t directly address the allegations about China’s role in spreading virus disinformation. However, she called the report hype and said China should have the right to use social media too.

An Associated Press investigation, conducted in collaboration with the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, found that powerful political figures and allied media in China as well as the U.S., Russia and Iran flooded the globe with disinformation about the virus.

 

The report, published earlier this week, said that Chinese officials went on the offensive in reaction to a narrative — nursed by former U.S. President Donald Trump among others — that the virus had been manufactured by China. Experts have largely ruled out that possibility.

Hua, asked about the AP report at a daily Foreign Ministry briefing, said that some people in Western countries, such as the U.S, don’t want to hear China’s objective and true voice.

“They are afraid that more people will learn the truth, so that they can no longer spread false information unscrupulously and do whatever they want to mislead and monopolize international public opinion,” she said.

China’s response, though, was to start spreading rumors that the virus had been created by a U.S. military lab and released during an international competition for military athletes in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the new coronavirus was first detected in late 2019.

The search for the origins of the virus has become highly politicized. Trump sought to pin the blame on China, in part to deflect criticism of his administration’s response to the pandemic in the United States.

China, in turn, has played up reports that the virus was circulating outside of the country before the outbreak in Wuhan, suggesting it may have been brought in from elsewhere.

Determining where the virus started is likely to take years of research and may never be known. Most scientists say the most likely scenario is it was first carried by bats in southwest China or neighboring Southeast Asia, and then spread to another animal before infecting humans.

China hits Canada for statement against arbitrary detention

China hits Canada for statement against arbitrary detention

BEIJING (AP) — China lashed out at Canada on Thursday for joining the U.S. and 56 other countries in endorsing a declaration denouncing state-sponsored arbitrary detention of foreign citizens for political purposes.

The dispute is rooted in Canada’s campaign to free its nationals Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were arrested more than two years ago by China in apparent retaliation for Canada’s arrest days earlier of a top Chinese tech executive, Meng Wanzhou, who is wanted in the U.S. on fraud charges.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying on Thursday reiterated China’s demand for Meng’s immediate release and told reporters Beijing has complained to Ottawa over the declaration, calling it a “despicable and hypocritical act.”

“Canada colluded with some countries to issue a so-called declaration against arbitrary detention, and deliberately let the relevant people slander China’s arbitrary detention of Canadian citizens Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor,” Hua said at a daily briefing.

“Canada’s so-called declaration looks more like a confession in which the Canadian side admits its mistake in the Meng Wanzhou case,” Hua said. “On the one hand, the Canadian side advocates that it adheres to the rule of law, but on the other hand, it acts as an accomplice of the U.S. and arbitrarily detains Chinese citizens. “

Meng is a leading executive with Huawei and the daughter of the company’s founder.

China says it has charged Kovrig and Spavor with endangering national security, but little is known about the accusations. In detention, they have been allowed only occasional visits from Canadian diplomats while Meng resides in one of her Vancouver mansions under a loose form of house arrest.

In endorsing the declaration, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on “all like-minded countries to work together to pressure the nations that engage in such detentions to put an end to this practice, to release those detained under such conditions and to respect the rule of law and human rights.”

The declaration is also meant to be a broad denunciation of coercive practice in other countries, such as Russia, Iran and North Korea.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau said the declaration is “country-agnostic” and that he wants to recruit more countries as signatories, which presently include the U.K, France, Australia, Germany and Sweden.

Canada weighs labelling China’s Uighur treatment a genocide

Canada weighs labelling China’s Uighur treatment a genocide

SINOBEAT
“It’s a word that is extremely loaded and is certainly something that we should be looking at in the case of the Uighurs,” Trudeau told a news conference.

Canada and other nations are considering labelling China’s treatment of its Uighur minority a genocide, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday.

This comes after Donald Trump’s outgoing administration last month said Beijing’s incarceration of mostly Muslim minorities in its far western Xinjiang region amounted to genocide and crimes against humanity.

Trudeau canada
File photo: World Bank Photo Collection via Flickr.

“It’s a word that is extremely loaded and is certainly something that we should be looking at in the case of the Uighurs,” Trudeau told a news conference. 

“I know the international community is looking very carefully at that and we are certainly among them, and we will not hesitate from being part of the determinations around these sorts of things.”

He said there was “no question” there had been significant human rights abuses reported coming out of Xinjiang.

“We are extremely concerned about that and have highlighted our concerns many times. But when it comes to the application of the very specific word ‘genocide,’ we simply need to ensure that all the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed in the processes before a determination like that is made,” Trudeau added.

xinjiang camp detention
File photo posted by the Xinjiang Judicial Administration to its WeChat account. File photo: Xinjiang Judicial Administration.

Rights groups say at least one million Uighurs and other Turkic-speaking Muslims have been incarcerated in camps in Xinjiang. 

Independent access to the sensitive area is highly restricted, making reporting and verification of the allegations near impossible.

But witnesses and activists say China is seeking to forcibly integrate the Uighurs into the majority Han culture by eradicating Islamic customs, including by forcing Muslims to eat pork and drink alcohol — both forbidden by their faith — while imposing a regime of effective forced labour.

In January, then US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said: “We are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uighurs by the Chinese party-state.”

Antony Blinken Joe Biden
Joe Biden (right) and his nominee for secretary of state Antony Blinken (left), photographed in 2016. Photo: U.S. Pacific Command, via Flickr.

His successor, Antony Blinken, has said he agreed with the label, and vowed to stay tough on China.

China has denied wrongdoing and contends that its camps are vocational training centers meant to reduce the allure of Islamic extremism in the wake of attacks.

Canada-China relations soured in late 2018 over the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, and China’s detention of two Canadians — former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor — in what Ottawa has called retaliation.